Sue Monk Kidd, “The Invention of Wings” and Writing


I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings” and as always, her writing keeps me so engaged from beginning to end. I’ve read some of her early work (“Traveling With Pomegranates” and “Secret Life of Bees,” which by the way, other than “The Great Gatsby,” is one of my all time faves. ) I adore her.

If you haven’t read the book yet, “The Invention of Wings” (inspired by the true story of early-nineteenth-century abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimké) tells the story and struggles of Sarah Grimké and her family’s slave Handful.

While the pain and struggle between these two women cannot be equated, they both strive to be set free from their differing bonds of slavery (Sarah from the bonds of patriarchy and Southern bigotry, and Handful from the inhuman bonds of slavery.)” –Paraphrased from Booklist review on

Besides a great story, what roused me the most about the book was how mature Kidd’s writing style had become since her debut novel, “Secret Life of Bees:” her sentence structures, her vocabulary, even her story telling–it all has ripened beautifully over time.”It almost made me wonder if she had a ghost writer, ha. (No offense, Mrs. Kidd. )

Usually after reading multiple books by successful mainstream writers, you can easily pick up on the author’s tone and style of writing from one novel to the next–it almost seems formulaic. But not with Kidd, she was refreshingly different. Not that I am insulting the established mainstream writer(s), I just find an author like Sue Monk Kidd more relatable personally, because, I haven’t come into my own just yet either.

“The Invention of Wings” made me realize that writing is like Yoga: You have to mind your own practice, know your limitations, and not compare yourself to others for the sake of stroking or even striking your ego.

Becoming a writer is a deeply personal journey and it takes time to bear the fruit of your labor. You can’t put a seed in the ground and expect 100 year old oak tree to sprout the next day.

Each writer has their own voyage and some of us have more stamps in our passports than others. And that’s okay. (This makes me think of Andrew Soloman’s piece in “The New Yorker,” “The Middle of Things: Advice to Young Writers.”) Kidd talks about her own writing journey in her book “Traveling With Pomegranates.”

Often times writers become so enthralled on the subject of other writers’ processes and journeys In hopes that it will be the secret ingredient needed to produce the same successful results. But since writing is such a subjective and creative pilgrimage, what works for one artist may not work for another. For example, Pollack would never find Michelangelo or Da Vinci’s process helpful, because his work is so different from theirs. 

Each art piece must be fashioned in it’s own way like a child in the womb, and so must the artist.


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